Thursday, 12 January 2017

Pollard oak gets a trim

There is a large pollarded oak tree between the tennis courts and the bowls green.
On Tuesday 10th January it had some special visitors. A Glendale arboricultural team from Waltham Forest came to tend to some of its dead and damaged limbs high up in places where normally birds and squirrels go. They were also reducing the height of the crown
Suitably harnessed, two of the guys climbed right up to the top.
For anyone who likes tree climbing, what a great activity. Watching them was exciting.
First they surveyed the tree:
surveying the situation
Then two of them climbed up. They looked like giant wood peckers silhouetted against the sky.
Climbing high



Meanwhile the guys on the ground were watchful to see that members of the public kept their distance and to ensure their colleagues high above were safe. Most of the pruned timber was shredded.
Shredding the prunings
Such skilled work by the arboricultural team.
Hopefully this ancient oak will thrive for a good few more years.

Christmas trees into wood chip

It is now early January 2017. Mountains of Christmas trees are being brought to Mayow Park to be shredded. It is great to see in the post-Christmas period that so many people are bringing them to the recycling areas in the park. Glendale workers have been busy chipping them and, despite the noise of the shredding machine, their efforts have been much appreciated. 

Glendale tree chipping in progress

Glendale machine eats Christmas trees
But the shredding machine is driven by diesel fuel. With concern growing about diesel emissions being bad for human health, is it time to rethink and modify this tradition?

This relatively modern, supposedly Christian, festive tradition may have originated in Germany. Although it became a ‘Christian’ tradition it has nothing to do with Christianity; trees brought into the home and decorated during the midwinter can be traced to pagan traditions.

What about environmental questions relating to real versus artificial trees: Do real Christmas trees, grown on plantations, cut down, transported, put on display in our homes and in public spaces, then taken away for shredding using fossil-fuelled machinery, have a smaller environmental impact than artificial trees which are brought out of storage every year for two decades or more?

Artificial Christmas trees are usually made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is a plastic derived from petrol. It is non-renewable. It is not recyclable. It gives off toxins including dioxins which are hazardous to human health. Is it true that you need to reuse the tree for twenty years before its environmental impact becomes less than a cut previously-living tree?

Farmed and harvested biodegradable Christmas trees, used for a couple of weeks then taken to our parks for shredding after Christmas,  still have an environmental impact. Farming produces emissions. Transportation produces emissions. Using diesel or other fossil fuel for shredding produces emissions.

The least environmentally damaging tree solution could be a conifer or another type of tree growing in a suitable pot outdoors which can be brought into the house every December and returned to the outdoors immediately after Christmas. 
Any thoughts?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Tree dressing photos 3 - group pictures

This is the last set of photos from our Tree Dressing event in Mayow Park on Sunday 4th December 2016. They were taken by Simon, a photographer working for Helping Britain Blossom who support The Orchard Project.http://helpingbritainblossom.org.uk
If you use any of these photos please acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.
group photo 1

group photo 2

tree with ribbons




sing along at the end of the morning



Tree dressing photos 2- decorating the trees

This set of photos show some of the tree dressing that took place. They were taken by Simon, sent to our event through Helping Britain Blossom.  http://helpingbritainblossom.org.uk/
Our event was publicised at the end of November on this link:
http://helpingbritainblossom.org.uk/tree-dressing-day-in-mayow-park-community-orchard/
If you use any of these photos please acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.

which branch shall I tie it on?

tying ribbons high up


tyingribbons to tree

parent and child tie ribbons

one beautifully decorated fruit tree







tree dressing photos 1 - story teller

Photographer Simon, sent by The Orchard Project and  Helping Britain Blossom, took some great photos.
We have been told we are welcome to use the photos but please always  acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.

Helping Britain Blossom was officially launched in October 2015. See  http://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/news-and-events/launching-helping-britain-blossom
On this website it says:
Helping Britain Blossom is all about helping local people create, restore and access orchards to enjoy and use for good in their own communities. A community orchard isn’t just a collection of trees, it’s a powerful way to bring people together.
At The Orchard Project, we’re really excited to be a founding partner with the opportunity to work with communities from all over the UK. Helping Britain Blossom will use our successful community orchard project model. Together we will share knowledge, skills and resources, supporting each other to reach out to communities to campaign for better use of public spaces whilst building healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.
And our Mayow Park Tree Dressing event is featured in the Helping Britain Blossom website: :
 http://helpingbritainblossom.org.uk/tree-dressing-day-in-mayow-park-community-orchard/

I will post a selection of photos as three separate posts . Here we feature the story teller
workshop to prepare for story telling 

In the woods with Amanthi for the story telling session




Our great Tree Dressing Day

In the UK we tend to check the weather forecast with fingers crossed for outdoor events so it was a HUGE relief that Sunday 4th December,  the day of the Mayow Park tree dressing event, was sunny but very, very cold. Volunteers arrived at 9.30am to check the orchard site, set up the gazebo and collect tables. Story teller Amanthi Harris prepared the little woodland story telling space and a table for craft activities on the hard standing nearby.
The Friends of Mayow Park had decided to use the orchard as the space for celebrating this event. We had two reasons: 1) to highlight the strength of community involvement in planting and maintaining our orchard  area within a public park. In years to come this orchard should provide a wonderful place for people to gather, have picnics and organise orchard-based events across the seasons. 2) to remember former Chair of the friends of Mayow Park, Hilary Jarrett.
 orchard trees in June2016
The park was already busy,being a sunny Sunday morning in winter, with dog walkers, families, joggers and others out for a breath of fresh air.  People started arriving at our gazebo from 10am to write messages on paper cut-out leaves or fabric and choose trees to tie on their messages.
Over the course of the morning three separate groups of  people joined us because they had heard about our event on BBC Radio London.What a wonderful surprise that was. It was included in Nikki Bedi's 'happening today' round up. Follow this link and go 50 minutes in
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04hgjk1
but don't delay as it will only be available for a limited time - until 1st or 2nd January 2017 I think.
families arrive to take part in tree dressing

Most people preferred strips of fabric to tie on to tree guards, either with or without a message rather than cutting out paper leaves. We'll remember this for next year's event!


Although people could decorate any of the trees in the orchard (including a maple, a lime and a beech) the friends chose  one particular apple tree. This had been chosen and planted by Hilary Jarrett when we first created the orchard in 2012. Hilary had been a great advocate for Mayow Park and we wanted everyone to be aware of her important role in planting and maintaining this orchard.

starting to decorate Lane's Prince Albert apple 
For the first 15 minutes or so we were very busy as families arrived. Refreshments (juice and sweets and apple pies) were more popular with the children than the adults.





It was soon time to call everyone for the story telling workshop. Children collected twigs to make mini trees and Amanthi showed them how to decorate using tissue paper.


Marianne with her twig        
decorating mini trees                                            













story telling in the woods

   woodland story time             







When enough small trees were made, Amanthi led adults and childen (and not only parents/ grandparents) into the woodland to the story telling circle. All made themselves as comfy as they could on the log benches, ready for the story. In the photo above left, can you spot Harry the dog with his owners Robert and Valerie as well as the miniature trees made by children in the workshop session?

After story telling it was back to the gazebo to add more decorations to the trees and the following photos show just some of the fairy tale feel of the orchard at the end of the morning. 

A photographer sent from Helping Britain Blossom arrived around 11.15am and took more photos of the story-telling and the singalong. His photos will follow separately and are MUCH more professional than any I have posted.       
decorated woodland tree       
lemon pippin decorated
The final part of the morning was the sing-along, singing winter songs rather than specifically Christmas songs. Next year it would be great if we could have tree songs too.
There are many people who worked to make this a successful event. 
I will begin with our park keeper who brought tables and checked throughout the morning that everything was fine. He also wrote a message on a paper leaf which he tied to the Lane's Prince Albert tree. See photo

I will list here the people who helped and hope I can remember them all.  Please forgive if I have forgotten anyone:
Jackie and Richard and their two boys who came at 9.30am and helped to set up the gazebo
Angela, Robert, Valerie who helped  set up and stayed all morning
Carol and Jon for the large poster, string and other items. They had to leave as they had a  party to prepare
Sandra who travelled from Greenwich  to help 
Annabelle C who brought seed balls for bird food to hand in the trees
Amanthi for her story telling
Amanthi's friend (Tom I think) who came with his guitar, having rehearsed songs for our sing-along.
And of course everyone who turned up to take part in this event.
Altogether we had 33 adults and 21 children over the course of the morning, according to the records on our sign-in sheets.

Tree Dressing 2016 - preparing our event

What is Tree Dressing about? Why hold it in Mayow Park?

We all know that trees are important and that we should not take them for granted. Customs around the world include tying ribbons, writing messages on fabric, hanging objects and more. The celebration brings the community together to appreciate the trees around us. Mayow Park has some ancient trees but also a young orchard. Lots to celebrate.
Some people who heard about our idea wondered why we would be doing  Christmas decorating as that was what tree dressing meant to them. They were surprised that our celebration was not intended to be a Christmas event as it cuts across many customs and cultures. It pre-dates Christianity  as trees have been valuable to people for all time.Tree Dressing is celebrated all over the world  among many cultures at different times of year. A charity called Common Ground pulled customs together and revived Tree Dressing into an English cultural event. They started this  in 1990 for the first weekend in December.
But people are very busy at weekends at this time of year so how could we attract them to our event? We came up with more ideas: a story teller? singing round a tree? Try to ensure the date does not clash with other local events in Sydenham and Forest Hill. So the date chosen was Sunday 4th December 2016 from 10 am to 12.30 pm. The site we selected was the orchard. One volunteer brought lots of coloured fabric strips and helped to set up. Another brought string for tying objects to the trees and tree guards. A musician with young children brought his guitar to enhance our sing-along.  The Orchard Project through Helping Britain Blossom arranged additional publicity and a photographer.
common beech leaves
beech leaves

 
So our ideas grew and preparations were made, permission sought and forms filled. (To be continued . . . )